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After being detained at the Police Hospital since August 2023, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been released on parole.

Thaksin, who returned to Thailand on 22 August 2023 after 17 years in exile, was sentenced to 8 years in prison for convictions in 3 cases tried in absentia.

Upon landing at Bangkok’s Don Muang International Airport, he was detained and sent to prison, where he was being closely monitored and detained in a separate facility to ensure his safety, due to his vulnerable health condition, including ischemic heart disease, pneumonia, high blood pressure, and spondylosis.

On 23 August 2023, he was transferred from the Bangkok Remand Prison to the Police Hospital by helicopter following a sudden illness during his first night in prison.

Days after his detention, he requested a royal pardon. On 1 September 2023, his request was granted. King Vajiralongkorn issued a decree commuting his sentence to 1 year in recognition of his service as Prime Minister and loyalty to the monarchy. The decree also said that his sentence was commuted because he respected the judicial process and accepted his sentence, as well as because of his old age and need for medical care.

Thaksin returned to the Shinawatra family residence in Bangkok’s Bang Phlat District at around 6.30 on Sunday (18 February) after being granted parole.

The Move Forward Party issued a statement on Sunday (18 February) noting that Thaksin’s detention and release, including the questionable nature of his hospital stay, has raised questions about whether the same legal standard applies to everyone equally.

Although the statement said it cannot be denied that Thaksin faced injustice as a Prime Minister ousted by a military coup, it noted that the government has not been able to provide a satisfactory explanation about Thaksin’s health condition or the criteria used to grant him parole, raising questions about equality when it comes to other political prisoners.

“If the government wants to provide justice for Thaksin as someone affected by political conflict or persecution, its procedures must not reinforce the double standards in the country’s justice system or encourage any individual to accept privileges before the law above others, but the government should hold to an approach which provides justice for everyone equally,” said the statement.

Meanwhile, Pheu Thai deputy leader Chusak Sirinil said that Thaksin did not receive any special treatment, and that he was granted parole along with 900 other inmates who meet the Department of Corrections’ criteria.

The Department of Corrections allows any inmate who is over 70 years old, is severely ill, or has a disability to file for parole if they have served at least 6 months or a third of their sentence.

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